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Libor: One Man Found Guilty But Culture Change Is Still Needed In Financial Sector

Libor: One Man Found Guilty But Culture Change Is Still Needed In Financial Sector by The Conversation

Former UBS AG (NYSE:UBS) and Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C) trader Tom Hayes has been convicted of eight counts of conspiring with other traders and brokers to manipulate Libor. As news of the sentencing emerged, much of the coverage has focused on the quirks of the man in question – the story of an autisic mathematician who was able to manipulate one of the world’s most important financial benchmarks for the price of a Mars bar.

There have been descriptions of a man who slept under the same superhero duvet between the age of eight and 24. And we found out that when a student he worked in a restaurant deboning chicken and cleaning a deep-fat frier. But all this tells us little about the collective psychology of the City of London. And until there is a collective culture change in the financial industry, we can expect to see the past repeating itself.

Questions over the integrity of the Libor rate were first raised in 2008. And that former member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee described it as “the rate at which banks don’t lend to each other”. But it was not until 2012 that US authorities revealed widespread collusion to manipulate the rate.

Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS) (LON:BARC) was the first among many banks to be fined hundreds of millions of dollars for its role in manipulating this key financial indice. These huge fines effectively lifted the lid on widespread unethical behavior in various sectors of the global financial market, including the gold and foreign exchange markets. What these investigations showed is that these apparently free markets were actually controlled by a small number of traders working in global banks who were able to manipulate global indicies for their own...